In this atmospheric novel by Scottish author Catriona McPherson, nothing is as it seems to be, and secrets that the characters of the book had thought were long-buried will soon come back to haunt them.
Donna Weaver and her mother have just spent every last penny on an old guesthouse set on the beach in Galloway. They have renovated and renamed it The Breakers, a tribute to the sea by which the house stands. They are busy perfecting and preparing the house for their first weekend guests when Donna’s mother is invited to a bridal expo—a huge opportunity to promote their fledgling business. Donna assures her mother she can handle everything at The Breakers herself, but her own doubts begin to arise as the weekend commences and the guests—a dysfunctional group of cousins—begin to arrive. It turns out they were all at The Breakers before, long ago, when it was a different name, and what happened that weekend, decades ago, has been haunting them since. Now that they are back at the place where it all happened, the dark secrets threaten to come to the surface, despite the vow each made to keep the secret: “Lock the box, stitch my lips, go to my grave.”
Donna, a student of the hospitality industry for years, and striving to make her new business a success, does her best to deliver professional service, delicious meals, and impeccable luxuries. But despite The Breaker’s renovations and the comforts it has to offer, its guests’ marital issues, sibling rivalries, and general unpleasantness slowly poison what should be a fun-filled weekend celebrating Sasha and his wife’s tenth wedding anniversary. And despite her desperate attempts to provide an experience worthy of five stars on Trip Advisor, Donna’s guests cannot escape the memories of what happened at this place years ago, back when it was called Knockbreak house, back when the cousins were teenagers, back when one of them, Sasha, hosted his sixteenth birthday party, and things went terribly wrong. Donna tries to remain uninvolved, but over the course of the weekend, she is increasingly drawn in to their web of deception and dysfunction.
Alternating chapters take place in 1991 and are narrated by a young local girl, Carmen, who describes attending the fated birthday party with her younger sister.
In present day, mysterious events are taking place at the guesthouse—gifts that everyone claims not to have ordered being delivered, a strange object pulled from the chimney while Donna attempts to light the hearth, guest’s clothes being moved, even as Carmen’s chapters reveal the details of the party all those years ago.
Moody and darkly humorous, this gothic novel is full of well-developed characters, charming Scottish slang, and a shocking ending. For a suspenseful read sure to make you feel a chill—whether from the brooding descriptions of the relentless sea, or the slow-burning dread of what is to come, pick up “Go to My Grave.”
Jenna Beers is a Circulation Assistant at Graham Public Library. She can be reached at (336) 570-6730 or email@example.com.